While the characters and plot of Dhipa Lee's debut novel are entirely fictional, it draws heavily on her own experiences, and the book has been a loyal friend on her journey of healing and self-discovery. Hoping to help other women with her story, it was very important to Dhipa that convoluted sentences or bad grammar didn’t take away from her book’s core message. So she turned to Reedsy for a professional editor.
I was too close to my book to spot the errors
After spending almost 16 years writing my book, I knew my story very well. I had spent a lot of time revising the plot and refining each chapter. So by the time my final draft was complete, I was far too close to my own book to be able to perform objective final revisions. I didn’t know whether it was readable, or if it would even make sense to other people. I knew I needed a professional editor who could point out flaws in grammar, word use, and overall flow, and who could provide advice on any areas that didn’t meet publishing standards.
As a first time author, I was new to the publishing world and looked for guidance from author and blogger Joanna Penn. She recommended Reedsy to me, which not only turned out to be a great place for information, but also a trustworthy and easy-to-use platform for hiring publishing professionals.
A copy edit by Reedsy’s experienced editor
When I first started my search for a copy editor, I really wanted to work with someone who knew my genre and had a wealth of experience in the industry. When I found Michael McConnell I knew I could trust his expertise to deliver a well-edited manuscript. His resumé was impressive, to say the least. Not only has he collaborated with New York Times bestselling authors, but indie authors on Reedsy also highly commended his work.
Michael’s copy edit involved a thorough line-by-line inspection of language, as well as the opportunity to ask questions after delivering the edited manuscript. He ensured the book was error-free and improved its readability, all the while preserving my authentic voice. Although I must have re-read my manuscript hundreds of times, he caught over 10,000 minor errors! This just goes to show how easy it is to become too close to your book and how important it is to hire a professional editor.
When an author approaches me for my editing services, I typically ask them to send at least a 3,000-word excerpt so I can determine whether I can be a friend to the text. If I like the excerpt, I will return a sample edit of the first 1,500 words. This gives the author an idea of what can be accomplished with copy editing.
For Dhipa, it was the dialogue that initially knocked me out. She has an ability to pull readers into the story, and a great instinct for authentic spoken dialogue and internal dialogue. Her scene writing also exemplified what is known as “show, don’t tell.” However, Dhipa needed help with dialogue tags, grammar, and punctuation; sometimes a misplaced modifier. So I suggested a medium-level copy edit, and she trusted me with her 180,000-word manuscript.
For around five or six weeks I worked on her manuscript and loved every minute. Because we used Track Changes, Dhipa could clearly see what I was doing and could accept or reject each change. I fixed all errors in punctuation, grammar, spelling, and syntax, and in addition, I looked at structure, consistency, accuracy, and readability. Dhipa wrote some of the most wonderful sentences. I simply made sure the commas were filed in the right places.
I hear from first-time authors all the time. They tell a common story: they finished a manuscript. They ran spell-check. Then they published it as a Kindle ebook. A few months go by and the author has heard from dozens of readers who are screaming that the book should have been proofread or edited. They have to start over.
Michael McConnell, Editor
My book is now 100% error-free
Copy editing contributes to the success of a professionally published book. An error-free manuscript — including tiny errors — is vital to a positive reading experience. With my book, Written, I spent years creating an immersive experience for readers and I wasn’t going to let a misplaced comma or a multitude of typos affect the pace and flow of my story.
Without hiring a professional, my gripping story would have been undermined by copy errors. Thanks to Reedsy, I published a polished book that meets industry standards, and I would highly recommend hiring an editor to ensure your book gets the professional finish it deserves.